Carrie Symonds looked elegant in a sari as she joined Boris Johnson in a Hindu temple for the couple’s first joint visit of the election.
The Prime Minister, who is ratcheting up his campaigning ahead of Thursday’s crunch ballot, beamed lovingly at his 31-year-old girlfriend who he has not been seen publicly with in over a month.
Ms Symonds has instead been criss-crossing the country with her adopted dog Dilyn in a blitz of marginal seats where Tory victories are crucial to her boyfriend clinching a majority.
Since the Downing Street couple’s last appearance at the Tory election launch on November 6, their relationship has come under the campaign spotlight.
Despite the PM’s consistent attempts to swat away questions about his private life, he has nevertheless been grilled by broadcasters on whether he is a ‘family man’.
BBC presenter Naga Munchetty memorably quizzed Mr Johnson about his relationship, while Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson this week said the PM could not protect ‘our family of nations, because we all know he is not a family man’.
And although it has not been a talking point in the election, the couple’s blazing row in Ms Symond’s flat during the summer Tory leadership has at times been dredged up by political rivals as ammunition.
But the couple silenced the critics on Saturday with an all-smiles trip to the temple where they were pictured laughing together and worshippers.
Carrie Symonds looked elegant in a sari as she joined Boris Johnson in Neasden Temple for their first joing campaign trail appearance
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds visit Neasden Temple during the campaign trail
Boris took his shoes off for the visit to the Hindu temple in London with his girlfriend
Mr Johnson, who removed his shoes as is customary, will be buoyed by the Mail on Sunday’s final poll of the election which puts the Conservatives 11 points ahead, just one point down on the party’s lead in the first survey at the start of November.
It is the fruit of a disciplined, safety-first campaign by the Tories, in which the Prime Minister has kept the jokes to a minimum and produced a manifesto shorn of risky policies such as the dementia tax, which helped to torpedo Theresa May’s majority two years ago.
The threat from Jeremy Corbyn’s spendthrift policies, such as the offer of free broadband and discounted train fares, has also been negated by the Tories’ ending their regime of austerity and ploughing billions into public services such as the NHS.
Long gone are the days when Labour could score easy political points by knocking the Conservatives on the Health Service: Mr Johnson now commands a ten-point lead on the issue, up from six points at the start of the campaign.
It means the party has been able to capitalise on the fact that health is regarded by voters as the most important issue facing families.
The PM and Carrie Symonds at the Conservatives’ manifesto launch on November 6 was the last time the pair were seen together
Safe hands: The PM gamely goes in goal before a girls’ match in Cheshire yesterday as the parties make a final push for votes
If the Tories’ lead in the poll is repeated on Thursday in a uniform manner across the country, Mr Johnson could be heading for a comfortable majority of 52 seats – in line with the party’s private projections.
But Tory strategists are still nervous about mobilising enough supporters in winter, particularly given the likely narrow margins of victory in many of the seats.
Critically, with blue seats in the South East such as Putney and Richmond Park under threat from pro-Remain, anti-Tory tactical voting, the party needs to pick up a significant number of pro-Brexit Labour seats in the ‘red wall’ of the Midlands and the North.
Mr Johnson (pictured campaigning in Cheshire today) now commands a ten-point lead on the issue, up from six points at the start of the campaign
Despite marketing themselves as the natural home for Remainers, Jo Swinson’s Lib Dems languish at 11 per cent – and her style has been described in focus groups as ‘bossy’ and ‘sanctimonious’.
With a net approval rating of minus 34, she is now close to Mr Corbyn’s rock-bottom score of minus 37. Earlier in the campaign she enjoyed a 39-point advantage over the Labour leader.
Mr Johnson, by comparison, enjoys a relatively buoyant rating of minus three – and such scores have proved in past elections to be a consistently strong guide to the victor on Election Day.
When voters are asked what result they expect on Thursday, they are split between an outright Tory majority and the Conservatives being the largest party in a hung parliament. Only 6 per cent think Mr Corbyn will win an outright majority.
- Deltapoll interviewed 1,533 British adults online between December 5-7. The data has been weighted to be representative of the British adult population as a whole.
BUOYANT BORIS NOT OVER THE LINE YET
By Joe Twyman
The Tories appear to be maintaining a strong lead over Labour – but they’re not over the line yet.
The party has succeeded in increasing its share of the vote thanks, in part, to the Brexit Party’s decision to stand down in a number of constituencies – and is now broadly at the same level of backing it achieved in 2017.
Labour has also managed to steadily improve support, but only by about the same amount as the Conservatives.
As a result, the gap between the two parties has been maintained. Beyond the headline voting intention figures, the underlying data has also consistently favoured the Conservatives since the campaign began.
Both parties had policies in their manifestos that really resonated with voters. But when asked who was better to deal with specific issues, the Tories won out again.
At no point during the campaign has the party been fewer than 15 points ahead of Labour on the question of who would be best for the economy. It has enjoyed similar leads on Brexit and has even been ahead on the issue of health – traditionally a key Labour strength.
In the entire history of British politics it has never been the case that a party has led on the economy and leader ratings and then not won the most seats at the Election. With only days to go, however, there is still time for Britons to be persuaded to change their mind.
A major mistake, misstep or gaffe could still bring about a movement in the polls.
Turnout will also be significant. Could younger voters, who are traditionally less likely to vote but also largely favour Labour, be persuaded to turn out in greater numbers?
Will some Conservatives who feel uneasy about Mr Johnson’s Brexit plan decide to sit on their hands rather than take a walk to the polling station?
Last-minute tactical voting decisions in key seats could still have an impact.
Ultimately for Labour, preventing the Conservatives from achieving a majority may prove to be enough to form a government if it forms alliances with other parties.
The polls may favour the Conservatives, but none of the parties will be giving up yet.